IE SHIMA DIARY by Bill Hengervelt
This is the day to day account of the planning and execution of the invasion of one little island of the Ryukyus, IE SHIMA.
Headquarters and headquarters company, army garrison force, APO 245 was organized this date and assigned to the 10th Army with initial station at AFO 253.
Army garrison force, APO 248, was this date assigned to Army garrison force, APO 331.
Brigadier General Charles E, Thomas, Jr. USA reported for duty and assumed command of AGF, APO 245. On active duty since 1 October 1927, General Thomas arrived in the Pacific, May 1944, and served successively as Commanding General, advance echelon, 21st Bomber Command; Deputy Commander of Operations, Army Air Forces, Pacific Ocean Areas, and AAFFCA Representative in the forward areas. Earlier for his outstanding service in initiating and building up the Warner Robins Air Service Command at Robins field, Macon, GA, General Thomas was awarded the Legion of Merit.
Lt. Col. J. A. Muller, A-3, and Major J.D. Fleming, A-2 were ordered on detached service to join the 77th Division at Leyte, P.I. as Liaison Officers representing the Commanding General during the assault phases of Ie Shima, landings.
First Echelon, with Lt. Co. B.F. Modisett as Troop Commander, leaves Oahu for target aboard U.S.S. Clearfield, AFO 142.
Convoy arrives Eniwetok. Clearfield at anchorage there for four days, proceeding Easter Sunday for Ulithi.
Easter Services held aboard ship shortly after news was received of the 10th Army landing on Okinawa.
Clearfield arrives at Ulithi. General Thomas, Col. L. J. Greeley, Chief of Staff, Lt. Col. W. L. Cramer, A-l and Captain R. Nesbit join party.
Sixth Marine Division moves onto Motobu Peninsula. 4.000 yards off Ie Shima thereby denying the peninsula as a support position for Ie Shima resistance.
Minna Shima, small Islet off S.E. coast of Ie Shima, was seized without resistance, and the 77th Division artillery emplaced there to support landing operations.
Terrific aerial and naval bombardment was laid on Ie Shima from 0730 to 0800. 0800 the 305th and 306th U.S. Army Regiments landed on green end on red one and two beaches.
Island command as the first army garrison force installations were instituted. These included a garrison force information center on red beach T-3 traffic control stations throughout the captured areas, PW camp and civilian stockade. Advance party of Army Garrison Force went ashore this date and it assumed control of unloading and island development operations. Included in the party going ashore were Lt. Col. R. H. Fraser, Staff Artillery Officer Major R.A. Gray, Asst. A-4:Major O. E. Esplin, Asst. A-3: Capt. A. E. Arledge, Asst. Island Engineer, Capt. V,J. Gilroy, Asst, Transportation Officer: Capt. R. H. Evans, Provost Marshal, and Lt. R. M. Westfall, Asst. A-3.
Fighting continued heavy during the day as troops closed in on the mountain and mopped-up caves and pillboxes manned by the desperate Japs. The enemy toll this area the highest during the entire fighting, 1512 being killed by our troops. Memorial Services were held for Ernie Pyle today at the island cemetery within sound of the continuing combat. The 77th Division Chaplain officiated while Major General Andrew Bruce, Commanding General of the 77th Infantry Division, newspapermen, newsreel cameramen and high ranking officers and scores of GI's attended the simple services.
After hours of the bitterest fighting of the entire week, the American flag was placed atop legusugu Yama and the island was declared secure, as mopping up operations continued. Col. L. J. Greeley, Chief of Staff, assumed control of all garrison activities this date
The Clearfield this date arrived on the target, anchoring about two miles off the island. The remainder of the first echelon debarked and Iscom Headquarters was set up on the side of a hill about 700 yards from the beach, the site of the former 77th Division Command Post. Supplies immediately started to coming ashore
Lt. General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., Commanding General 10th Army, arrived for his first inspection of the island
The 77th Division withdrew to Okinawa, and Brigadier General Thomas assumed formal command of le Shima. During the fighting, the bitterest in which t the 77th had yet participated in during the war, 172 77th Division troops were killed in action, 46 were listed as missing and 901 were wounded in action The Japs suffered 4706 killed and 50 were taken prisoner. Some 1700 civilians were brought under control.
Scattered groups of snipers and raiders, hiding in caves and tunnels in the vicinity of le town, and sporadic small raids, considerable danger still existed on the island from mines and booby traps} It was the heaviest mined island taken thus far in the Pacific, thereby occasioning serious obstacles in the speedy development of necessary installations
Two enemy aerial raids were staged during the night one plane was destroyed, four reported damaged. Food stores and blankets found in caves were being utilized by the military government for use of captured Civilians.
Livestock, consisting principally of horses, chickens and goats, were being picked up and corralled by the MG.
Information gleaned today confirmed that the Jap Island Commander for le Shima was Major Igawa Tadashi, who was killed in action during fighting on legusugu Yama. First church services were conducted outdoors near Iscom Heed-quarters*
The first cargo plane landed at 1200 today. It was a C-46 piloted by Capt. I. V. Masters, U3MC. Since this date a C-46 has been operating daily to and from Yontan Airfield, Okinawa, this plane arriving here et 1000 end leaving at 1600, carries both mall end authorized personnel. Meanwhile, preparations were proceeding rapidly to receive the combat air units and to insure adequate supply and maintenance facilities on the island so that they may operate at top efficiency against the enemy. The first specimen of the islands a poisonous snakes ( Habu ) was killed in the 93rd AAA area. The snake: measured three feet in length.
A C-47 of Marine Air Group 43 arrived today. This was the first le Shine based airplane on the island During this period transient operational facilities started functioning under the supervision of the 342nd station complement squadron in coordination with Detachment 51, 1248th AACS, which operated tower facilities from a Jeep. Iscom Surgeon, Col. R.J. Caton, reported that an ample supply of water was available on the island and that the two discovered water holes would be sufficient to supply the entire island. The water was reasonably pure. Anopheles mosquitoes were present on the island, but not nearly as prevalent as had been anticipated. Island units were still too scattered for equalization of dispensary service. Some units had none, but sick call was generally at a minimum.
The major portion of the livestock on the island has been turned over to the military government. It was reported, however, that Japanese soldiers still on the island were using stray horses to attack the 305th Infantry perimeter at night. A number of casualties were being reported daily as a result of exploding mines. Meanwhile, special details, comprised of enlisted men and Jap prisoners of war, were burying the hundreds of Japanese dead as well as livestock killed during the fighting.
General Buckner, 10th Army Commander, paid a 2nd visit to the island and inspected progress of island development. Clear weather prevailed the past few days and permitted development to move ahead at top speed. The American Bad Cross this date established an office at Iscom Headquarters end immediately began assisting enlisted men with their problems. The first patients were evacuated today from the 36th Field Hospital by LST to Okinawa.
A lone plane, tentatively identified as a Zeke 52, approached the island et medium altitude at 0800 and made a gliding run on the shipping at anchorage. As the plane pulled out of its glide it received numerous hits from both shore and ship guns and crashed into the sea about 500 yards from shore
It was reported by A-3 today that 45 miles of roads had been cleared and were ready for traffic. Approximately 225 tons of mines and bombs hare been pulled to date. For the first time in four nights, enemy aerial activity was missing due to rain. She 305th Infantry, 77th Division, embarked for Okinawa today end was relieved by the 2nd Battalion, 106th Infantry, 27th Division. General Thomas extended a written commendation the CO of the 305th for the manner in which the Regiment carried on its operations at Ie Shima.
It was revealed today that the Japanese Government had purchased from Okinawan's practically all of the central flat table-land of Ie Shima from the west of legusugu Yama to the west beaches and from the northern cliffs to the main south highway as a military reservation and airfield. The price was one yen and eighty sen per 366 square feet. One hundred nineteen prisoners of war were shipped to Okinawa.
V-E Day was enthusiastically but calmly received by troops here. If anything, the good news from the European Theater served to increase the tempo of island development. Twenty armed Jap soldiers and women, many of the latter armed with hand grenades, were killed by 7th AAA and AG 22 personnel in caves today, biggest daily bag for several days, lscom Headquarters Issued a warning that patrols must go out In groups of at least three people, since the Japs apparently have a penchant for attacking individuals rather than groups.
Five patients were evacuated by air to Okinawa, the beginning of an almost daily operations.
The 156th Station Hospital arrived today. Iscom surgeon reported 27 cases of Dengue, 17 Dysentery to date, at this date 4820 enemy soldiers bed been killed on Ie Shima, 120 had been taken prisoner while 2033 internees were in the military government's civilian compound. Roads were 56 miles operational this date.
Two enemy planes swooped low without warning this morning end attacked shipping. One of the enemy planes, after releasing an aerial torpedo In the direction of the USS Panamint was shot down by shore end ship anti-aircraft f fire, Skillful maneuvering of the Panamint prevented a hit on the control ship In falling the burning plane crash-dived on the SS TJISDALE, a Dutch merchant ship carrying equipment of the 156th Station Hospital, Four persons were killed, and several injured but the equipment was undamaged. The second plane, after feinting a crash dive, took off at almost water level and was nailed by Marine Corsair's off the western end of the Island. Two others were shot down over the islands north shore.
156th Station Hospital landed and was established on the extreme east end of Ie Shima. During the first night ashore the hospital area was attacked by a small Jap infiltration party, one medical corpsman being severely wounded.
The main water point, operated by the 1902nd Engineers on the north side of the island, was yielding 30,000 gallons of fresh water daily. The water was being brought up over an almost vertical 240 ft. bluff by 2 1/2 inch canvas hose. Eventual output of the hole was estimated at 120,000 gallons daily. Planes began spraying the island with DDT today.
First fighter planes to be permanently based on le Shima arrived today. The 333rd Squadron of the 318th Fighter Group, comprising 32 F-47"s began arriving shortly after noon. Major Paul Fojtik, Squadron Commander, brought the first plane in at 1220. The squadron was mothered in by a B-29 from Saipan. The 73rd Fighter Squadron arrived the following day.
The 19th Fighter Squadron arrived today, thus completing the movement of the 318th Fighter Group.
Eleven nurses, headed by Capt. Mildred Overskei of Minneapolis, arrived for duty with the 36th Field Hospital. The group was flown in from Saipan. The 132nd Engineers opened a new water point near a Japanese well east of legusugu Yama today.
The 28th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron arrived today. Iscom Headquarters was moved away from the airstrips to a site 300 yards due east of legusugu Yama
Admiral Cobb assumed command of Task Group 51.21 this date, relieving Admiral Reifsnider, whose present tour of sea duty was completed. Before leaving, Admiral Reifsnider radiogrammed the following message to General Thomas, Island Commander - " Upon doing relieved of Sofa duties I wish to express my appreciation for the complete and effective co-operation you have given me. Best of luck."
General Thomas, in a written commendation to all organizations and individuals of the command, commented on Admiral Reifsnider's message as follows: "Such a message was made possible only by the untiring efforts end individual achievements of each one of you, and I wish to take this opportunity to commend you personally for the soldierly qualities end fine spirit shown thus far during the current operation. The continuance of such performance of duty by all members of the command will bring about the completion of this advanced major air base, the shortening to the pacific war, and realization of the goal of all to return to our homes and loved ones. Congratulations of a job well done."
There were six enemy flights over the Island, starting at 1945 and continuing until approximately 0300. At least 15 bombs were dropped on the airfield and in the 364th Air Service and Marine Air Group 22 areas. One Air corps officer and one Marine enlisted man were killed. 11 Army enlisted men and one Marine enlisted man wounded. One enemy plane was destroyed, three damaged.
The 318th fighter Group flew its first strike from le Shima, this date, a night heckler mission against Byu, Manos, Tojimbara, Kegoshima, Kanoya and Mizaki in southern Kyushu. Pilots strafed and fired rockers. The two-plane strike was flown by Major Philip K. Rassmussen. a Group Operations Officer and 1st lieut. William P. Goff, 333rd Fighter Squadron. (It, Goff failed to return from a similar mission two nights later.)
There were four night attacks on le Shima harbor activities, resulting in the destruction of LST 808 and one barge. The 808 was hit by a torpedo. Navy casualties were 10 dead, 21 wounded and an undetermined number missing.
Preceding the Bain exodus of all civilians in the military government compound, 70 sick and wounded civilians were today transferred to Kerma Retto.
The 318th Fighter Croup lost its first pilot in operations from le Shima today. Capt. William D. Fracher, 33rd Fighter Squadron, failed to return from a night mission to Tanega Shima and was listed as missing in action. Major Paul. Fojtik, commanding officer, 333rd Fighter Squadron, led eight planes on the 318th Groups' first daylight fighter strike from le Shima Planes hit Kune Shima and Okinawa Gunto with rockets and bombs
A red Cross coffee and doughnut canteen went into operation on the beach today., saving men working on the beach and troops coming ashore. The canteen is open 24 hours a day.
Since to start of unloading operations April 23rd, a total of 84,335 tons hare crossed the beach work was hampered considerably by weather, air alerts and lack of lighterage. Development of proper levels of supply had been delayed by failure of maintenance shipments to arrive on time. The result was critical shortages in various classes of supplies.
Two malaria teams arrived today; The 526th Malaria Control Detachment and the 603rd Malaria Survey Detachment.
The 113th Squadron of Marine Air Group 22 arrived today, followed several days later by the 422nd end 314th Fighter Squadrons.
There were three hostile air attacks, centering on the shipping at anchorage, between 1630 and 2121. Four planes were destroyed, but one, believed a Betty, suicided into the ill-fated LST 808, which had been beached. One Navy enlisted man was wounded. Near suicide misses were observed on the Vanderbilt and Kotaenten.
1st Lieut. William B. Spencer 73rd Fighter Squadron, shot down a Jack or over Kyushu for- the first enemy plane destroyed by 318th Fighter Group Marines flying from 10 Shima,
The Japs stepped up aerial activity over the island today. Beginning at 2005, and continuing until 0500, enemy planes gave the island a terrific pasting, one attack numbered 12 planes. Serious damage was caused to installations, but the operational condition of the air strip was unimpaired Anti-air craft, expending 1789 rounds of 90 MM. ammunition, 244 rounds of 40 MM and 5049 rounds of .50 cal, destroyed 17 planes. At least 70 bombs, ranging from 63 Kg. to at least 5000 lbs. were dropped on the island. One bomb landed in the Navy gropac area, completely demolishing a dispensary, end causing 24 deaths end 21 wounded. Ironically, many of those killed or wounded were from the LST 808. Other serious damage as caused in the 1903rd Engineer area, where one soldier was killed in action end nine wounded. The 903rd gasoline dump was totally destroyed or seriously damaged. with facilities taxed to capacity at the 36th Field Hospital an urgent call was sent to the 156th Station Hospital for assistance. Though not prepared to swing into action, the 156th mobilized in 40 minutes and lent yeoman assistance to the hard-pressed 36th Field Hospital staff.